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2013 MacBook Pro Retina and later
2013 and later MacBook Air
My daily workhorse, fantastic gamut, friendly pixel density.
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini USB3 / eSATA SSD
There are several variants of this enclosure: USB3 only, USB3/FW, USB3/eSATA. MPG generally chooses the USB3-only model as of 2014. See all variants at OWC.
The eSATA 6G +USB3 enclosure offers both offers both eSATA 6G and USB3 connectivity, and houses a fast 480GB Mercury Electra 6G SSD. Other SSD capacities are available (120/240/960GB), as well as hard drive versions in the same enclosure.
Connectivity to your MacBook Pro or Mac Pro
The USB3 interface is perfect for any Mac with USB3 ports.
The eSATA 6G port is perfect for any Mac Pro with an eSATA card, such as the inexpensive NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe Card, or the FirmTek SeriTek/2ME4E Four-Port eSATA PCIe card. Use with eSATA requires an external power brick (optional).
Bus powered and low power draw
The Mini SSD is perfect for travel with a USB3 laptop: bus-powered with a very low power draw. Plug it in and get to work— no power cord and minimal impact on battery life.
There are many uses for an overflow drive this fast (more on that below):
- A clone backup or a Time Machine backup volume.
- Up to 960GB of very fast external “overflow” storage. Since the 15" June 2012 MacBook Pro has three USB3 ports, in theory three drives could be directly attached.
- An alternate boot drive (for another Mac OS and/or a Windows boot).
- A drive for fast file transfer or sharing between more than one computer.
Not only is it rockin' fast, but it’s hassle-free:
- Bootable — I cloned onto it and booted right up.
- Bus powered — no power cable needed; the USB3 cable supplies the power. This is *very* convenient while traveling.
- Silent — no fan.
- Comes with all cables.
- Backward compatible with (very slow) USB2.
- All metal enclosure, slips easily into a briefcase or similar.
- eSATA 6G support (think Mac Pro).
- Three year warranty.
Performance (June 2013 model)
This is a sequential transfer test, the most important performance metric for Photoshop, copying large files, and similar programs for real-world usage. Many web nerd tests focus on irrelevant 4K random transfer or similar tests, which are wholly irrelevant for the overwhelming majority of users.
Exactly one year after testing the 2012 model, a new model arrived with updated firmware; the June 2013 model delivers notaby higher performance.
The drive was tested completely empty with a 480GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD installed. Results shown are from the 2nd test; the first pass is done to make the drive fully utilize its capacity, then the drive erased and 2nd test was run.
The speed blows-away the sluggish Firewire 800 port on the older MacBook Pros by a real-world factor of 3-7X. That’s a huge gain rarely seen with any upgrade.
While these speeds do not deliver the full potential of the 480GB 6G SSD used inside the unit, the real-world differences are minimal. This is fantastic performance from a single-drive external unit suitable for just about any high-performance task.
Speed in MB/sec is real-world, including operating system file system overhead (not unrealistic driver-level calls).
The 2012 model maxes-out earlier.